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(Cup found in Mound at Rainy River, Aug. 22nd, 1SS4.) 

Gboi^gb Bi^YGB, GQ.^., LcLcD., 

Professor in Manitoba Collegre and President of the 
Historical Society, Winnipeg*. 


(Season 1884-85, Transaction 18.) 

Manitoba Free Press Print, Winnipeg. 


. / .^T,-^. P. A .7, 


=^*^^ . 

A Lost Race Descrited by Dr. Bryce, President of the Historical Society. 

SEASON 1884-85. 

Ours are the only mounds making up a distinct mound-region 
on Canadian soil. This comes to us as a part of the large inheri- 
tance which we who have migrated to Manitoba receive. No 
longer cribbed, cabined, and confined, we have in this our "great- 
er Canada " a far wider range of study than in the fringe along 
the Canadian lakes. Think of a thousand miles of prairie ! The 
enthusiastic Scotsman was wont to despise our level Ontario, be- 
cause it had no Grampians, but the mountains of Scotland all 
piled together would reach but to the foot hills of our Rockies. 
The Ontario geologist can only study the rocks in garden plots, 
while the Nor' wester revels in the age of reptiles in his hundreds 
of miles of Cretaceous rocks, with the largest coal and iron area 
on the continent. As with our topography so with history. 
The career of the Hudson's Bay Company, which is in fact the 
history of Rupert's Land, began 120 3^ears before the history of 
Ontario, and there were forts of the two rival Fur Companies on 
the Saskatchewan and throughout the country, before the 
U. E. Loyalist felled a forest tree in Upper Canada. We are es- 
pecially fortunate in being the possessors also of a field for archae- 
ological study in the p^^rtion of the area occupied by the mound 
builders —the lost race, whose fate has a strange fascination for 
all who enquire into the condition of Ancient America. 

The Indian guide points out these mounds to the student of 
history with a feeling of awe ; he says he knows nothing of them; 
his fathers have told him that the builders of the mounds were 
of a different race from them — that the mounds are memoiials of a 
vanished people — the " Ke-te-anish-i-na-be," or " very ancient 
men." The oldest Hudson's Bay officer, and the most intelligent 
of the native people, born in the country, can only give some 
vague story of their connection with a race who perished with 
small-pox, but who, or whence, or of what degree of civilization 
they were, no clue is left. 

It must be said moreover that a perusal of the works written 
about the mounds, especially of the very large contributions to the 
subject found in the Smithsonian Institution publications, leaves 
the mind of the reader in a state ot thorough confusion and un- 
certainty. Indeed; the facts relating to the Mound Builders are 
as perplexing a problem as the pui'pose of the Pyramids, or the' 
story of King Arthur. 

Is it any wonder that we hover about the dark mystery, 
and find in our researches room for absorbing study, even though 
we cannot reach absolute certainty ? Could you have seen the 
excitement which prevailed among the half-dozen settlers, I had 
employed in digging the mound on Rainy River, in August last, 
when the perfect pottery cup figured below was found, and the 
wild enthusiasm with which they prosecuted their further work, 
you would have said it requires no previous training, but simply 
a successful discovery or two to make any one a zealous mound 


A mound of the kind found in our region is a very much 
flattened cone, or round-topped hillock of earth. It is built usu- 
ally, if not invariably where the soil is soft and easily dug, and it 
is generally possible to trace in its neighborhood the depression 
whence the mound material has been taken. The mounds are as 
a rule found in the midst of a fertile section of country, and it is 
pretty certain from this that the mound builders were agricul- 
turists, and chose their dwelling places with their occupation in 
view, where the mounds are found. The mounds are found 
accordingly on the banks of the Rainy River and Red Rivei, and 
their affluents in the Northwest, in other words upon our best 
land stretches, but not so far as observed around the Lake of the 
Woods, or in barren regions.. Near fishing grounds they greatly 
abound. What seem oO have been strategic points upon the river 
were selected for their sites. The promontory giving a view and 
so commanding a considerable stretch of river, the point at the 
junction of two rivers, or the debouchure of a river into a lake or 
vice versa is a favorite spot. At the Long Sault on Rainy River 
there are three or four mounds grouped together along a ridge. 
Here some persons of strong imagination profess to see remains 
of an ancient fortification, but to my mind this is mere fancy. 
Mounds in our region vary from 6 to ;3() feet in height, and from 
60 to 130 feet in diameter. Some are circular at the base, others 
are elliptical, 



The mounds have long been known as occurring in Central 
America, in Mexico, and along the whole extent of the Mississippi 
valley from the Gulf of Mexico to the great lakes. Our North- 
west has, however, been neglected in the accounts of the mound - 
bearing region. Along our Red River I can count some six or eight 
mounds that have been noted in late years, and from the banks hav- 
ing been peopled and cultivated I have little doubt that others 
have been obliterated. One formerly stood on the site of the new 
unfinished Canadian Pacific Hotel in this city. The larger num- 
ber of those known are in the neighborhood of the rapids, 16 or 
18 miles below Winnipeg where the fishing is good. In 1879 the 
Historical Society opened one of these, and obtained a consider- 
able quantity of remains. It is reported that there are mounds 
also on Nettley Creek, a tributary of the lower Red River, also on 
Lake Manitoba and some of its afiluents. During the past sum- 
mer it was my good fortune to visit the Rainy River, which lies 
some half way of the distance from Winnipeg to Lake Superior. 
In that delightful stretch of country, extending for 90 miles 
along the river there are no less than 21 mounds. These I 
identify with the mounds of Red River. The communication be- 
tween Red and Rainy River is effected by ascending the Red 
Lake River, and coming by portage to a river running from the 
south into Rainy River. Both Red and Rainy River easily con- 
nect with the head waters of the Mississippi. Our region then 
may be regarded as a self-contained district including the most 
northerly settlements of the strange race who built the mounds. 
I shall try to connect them with other branches of the same stock, 
lying further to the east and south. For convenience I shall speak 
of the extinct people who inhabited our special region as the 
Takawgamis, or farthest north mound builders. 


The thirty or forty mounds discovered up to this time in 
this region of the Takawgamis have, so far as examined, a uniform 
structure. Where stone could be obtained there is found below 
the surface of the ground a triple layer of flat limestone blocks, 
placed in an imbricated manner over the remains interred. In 
one mound, at the point where the Rainy Lake enters the Rainy 
River, there is a mound situated on the property of Mr. Pither, 
Indian agent, in which there was found on excavation, a struc- 
ture of logs some 10 feet square, and from six to eight feet high. 
In all the others yet opened the structure has been simply of earth 

of various kinds heaped together. It is possible that the mound 
containing the log erection may have been for sacrifice, for the 
logs are found to have been charred. One purpose of all the 
mounds of the Takawgamis was evidently sepulture ; and in them 
all, charcoal lumps, calcined bones and other evidences of fire are 
found. It would seem from their position that all the mounds of 
this region were for the purpose of observation as well as sepul- 
ture. The two purposes in no way antagonize. For the better 
understanding of the whole I have selected the largest mound of 
the Takawgamis yet discovered, and will describe it more minutely. 


It is situated on the Rainy River, about 20 miles from the 
head of Rainy River. It stands on a point of land where the 
Missachappa or Bowstring River and the Rainy River join. 
There is a dense forest covering the river bank where the mound 
is found. The owner of the land has made a small clearing, 
which now shows the mound to some extent to one standing on 
the deck of a steamer passing on the river. The distance back 
from the water's edge is about 50 j^ards. The mound strikes you 
with great surprise as your eye first catches it. Its crest is 
covered with lofty trees, which overtop the surrounding forest. 
These thriving trees, elm, soft maple, basswood and poplar, 60 
or 70 feet high now thrust their root tendrils deep into the afore- 
time softened mould. A foot or more of a mass of decayed leaves 
and other vegetable matter encases the mound. The brushy sur- 
face of the mound has been cleared by the owner, and the thicket 
formerly upon it removed. The circumference of one fine poplar 
was found to be 4 feet 10 inches; of another tree, 5 feet 6 inches, 
but the largest had lately fallen. Around the stump the 
last measured seven feet. The mound is eliptical at the 
base. The longest diameter, that is from east to west, the 
same di^^ction as the course of the river, is 117 feet. The, corre- 
sponding shorter diameter from north to south is 90 feet. The 
circumference of the mound is consequently 325 feet. The 
highest point of the mound is 45 feet above the surrounding level 
of the earth. As to height the mound does not compare un- 
favorably with the celebrated mound at Miamisburg, Ohio, known 
as one of the class of " observation mounds," which is 68 feet 
high and 852 feet around the base. In addition to its purpose of 
sepultire, everything goes to show that the " Grand Mound " of 
Rainy River was for observation as well. 



Two former attempts had been made to open this mound. 
One of these had been made in the top, and the large skull be- 
fore you was then obtained. A more extensive effort was that 
made in 1883, by Mr. E. McColl, Indian agent, Mr. Crowe, H. B. 
Co. officer ol Fort Frances, and a party of men. Their plan was 
to run a tunnel from north to south through the base of the 
mound. They had penetrated some ten or fifteen feet, found 
some articles of interest, and had then given up the undertaking. 
Having employed a number of men, settlers in the neighborhood, 
I determined to continue the tunnel for a certain distance through 
the mound, all the way if indications were favorable, and then to 
pierce the mound from the top. '1 he men in two parties went 
industriously to work on the opposite sides, working toward each 
other, making a tunnel about eight feet in diameter. The earth 
though originally soft soil had become so hard that it was neces- 
sary to use a pick axe to loosen it for the spade. A number of 
skeletons were found on the south side, but all 1 should say with- 
in ten feet from the original surface of the mound. As we pene- 
trated the interior fewer remains were continually found. The 
earth gave many indications of having been burnt. At one point 
the pick-axe sank ten inches into the hard wall. This was about 
fifteen feet from the outside. The excavator then dug out with 
his hand from a horizontal pocket in the earth eight or ten inches 
wide and eighteen or twenty inches deep, a quantity of soft brown 
dust, and a piece of bone some four inches long, a part of a human 
forearm bone. This pocket was plainly the original resting place 
of a skeleton, probably in a sitting posture. As deeper penetra- 
tion was made brown earthy spots without a trace of bone re- 
maining were come u pon. The excavation on the south side was 
continued for thirty feet into the mound, but at this stage it was 
evident that bones, pottery, etc., had been so long interred that 
they were reduced to dust. No hope seemed to remain now of 
finding objects of interest in this direction, and so with about 
forty feet yet wanting to complete the tunnel, the search was 
transferred to the top of the mound. 


Beginning on the crest of the mound, the mould was re- 
moved over a considerable space, and though some trouble was 
found from the presence of the roots of the growing trees, yet 
three or four feet from the surface human bones and skeletons 
began to occur. In some cases a complete skeleton was found. 

in other cases what seemed to be a circle of skulls, buried along- 
side charred bones, fragments of pottery and other articles. 
Several different excavations v^ere made on the mound surface, 
and it was found that every part from the base to the crest con- 
tained bones and skeletons, to the depth ot from six to ten feet 
as already said ; bones and articles of interest were found thus far ; 
deeper than this nothing. I shall now describe the articles found 
in this mound, and refer in some cases to what has been found 
in the other mounds of the Takawgamis. 


1. Bones. Of the bones found, the skulls were the most 
interesting. In some cases it would seem as if they alone of the 
bones had been carried trom a distance, perhaps from a distant 
part of the mound builders' territory, from a battle field or some 
other spot. In some cases this was proved, by the presence in the 
eye-sockets and cavities of clay of a different kind from that of 
the mound, showing a previous interment. The mound was 
plainly a sacred spot of the family or sept. Before you are pieces 
of charred bone. Of the bones unburnt some were of large size. 
There are before us two skulls, one from the grand mound, the 
other from the Red Rivei mound opened by the Society in 1879. 
The following are the measurements of the two skulls which I 
have made carefully ; and alongside the average measurements of 
the Brachycephalic type given by Dr. Daniel Wilson, as well as of 
the Dolichocephalic : 

Average Rainy Eiver Red River Average 
DoLicHO- Skull. Skull. Brachy- 
cephalic. CEPHALIC. 

Longitudinal diameter 7.24 7.3 in. 6.7 6.62 

Parietal diameter 5.47 5.8 5.5 5.45 

Vertical " 5.42 6.2 5.8 5.30 

Frontal " ...,, 4.36 4.2 3.7 4.24 

Intermastoid Arch 14.67 15.3 15.6 14.63 

Intermastoid line 4.23 5.8 4.3 4.25 

Occipito frontal Arch 14.62 17. 13.8 13.85 

Horizontal circumference. 20.29 22.3 19.6 19.44 

From this it will be seen that the Red River mound skulls 
agree with the Toltecan Brachycephalic type ; and the Rainy 
River skull while not so distinctly Brachycephalic yet is consider- 
ably above the average of the Dolichocephalic type. 

2. Wood. A.s already stated it is only in some of the mounds 
that charred wood is found. This specimen is from the mound 

at Contcheteheng, at the head of Rainy River. It stands beside 
the Rapids. This mound has supplied many interesting remains. 
From this fact as well as from its situation, I would hazard the 
opinion that here, as at the great Rainy River Falls, three miles 
farther down, there were villages in the old mound building days. 
It is a fact worthy of notice that the site of the first French Fort 
on Rainy River, St. Pierre built by Verandrye in 1731, was a few 
hundred yards from this mound. 

3. Bark. Specimens of birch bark were found near by the 
bones. It was no doubt originally used for swathing or wi^ap- 
ping the corpses buried. That a soft decayable substance such as 
bark, should have lasted while a number of bones had decayed 
may seem strange. No doubt this may be explained in the same 
way as the presence among the remains in Hochelaga, on the 
Island of Montreal, of preserved fi-agments of maize, viz. : by its 
having been scorched. The pieces of bark seem to have been 
hardened by scorching. 

4. Eartk. The main earth of the mound is plainly the same 
as that of the soil surrounding it. By what means the earth was 
piled up, is a question for speculation. It seems a mattei* of 
small moment. Possibly that the earth was carried in baskets, or 
vessels of considerable size is sufficient to account for it. My 
theory is that the mound was not erected by a vast company of 
busy workeis as were the pyramids, but that it was begun at 
first for purposes of observation, that as interments were from time 
to time made in it sufficient earth was carried up to effect the 
purpose, until in centuries the enormous aggregate of earth was 
formed. Among the earth of the mound are also found in spots, 
quantities of red and yellow ochre. The fact that the skulls and 
bones seem often to have a reddish tinge, goes to show that the 
ochi'e was used for the purpose of ornamentation. Sometimes a 
skull is drawn out of the firm cast made by it in the earth, and 
the cast is seen to be reddened by the ochre which was probably 
smeared over the face of the slain warrior. The ochre is entirely 
foreign to the earth of which the mound is made, but being earthy 
remains long after even pottery has gone to decay. 

5. Ore. Lying near this skull as if they had been placed in 
the hands of the corpse were two pieces of metallic ore, one of 
which is before you. A fresh section of it shows it to be 
Arsenical Iron Pyrites, each piece \veighing four or five ounces. 
No doubt the shining ore and its heavy weight atti-acted notice, 


although it is of no commercial value. The probabilities are that 
this ore was regarded as sacred, and possibly having been con- 
sidered valuable was placed beside the corpse as the ancient 
bolus was laid beside the departed Greek to pay his fare to 
crusty Charon. 

Figure 1. 

Mound Buildj:rs' Implements. 


1. Stove Implanents. The stone articles found, no doubt form 
a very small proportion of the implements used by the lost race. 
I am able to show you three classes of implements. 

(a.) Scrapers. (See c. Figure 1.) These were made after the 
same manner and from the same material as the flint arrow heads, 
found so commonly all over this continent. They are usually of 
an oval or elongated diamond shape, of various thicknesses, but 
thin at the edges. Their purpose seems to have been to assist in 
skinning the game, the larger for larger game, the smaller for 
rabbits and the smaller fur bearing animals. Probably these im- 
plements were also used for scraping the hides or skins manufac- 
tured into useful articles. 

(6.) Stone Axes and Malls. In the mound on Red River 
was found the beautiful axe of crystalline limestone, which ap- 
proaches marble. From the absence of stone so far as we know 
of this kind in this neighborhood, it is safe to conclude that it 
come from a distant locality. There are also gray stone celts and 
hammers used for crushing corn, for hammering wood and baik 
for the canoes, and other such like purposes, in time of peace ; and 
serving as formidable weapons in time of war. In the mound on 
the Red River a skull was discovered having a deep depression 
in the broken wall, as if crushed in by one of these impliments. 

(c.) Stone Tubes. (See b. Fig. 1.) These are among the 
mo&t difficult of all the mound-builders' remains to give 
an opinion upon. They are chiefly made of a soft stone 
something like the pipestone used by the present Indians which 
approaches soapstone. The hollow tubes (see figure B.) vary 
from three to six inches in length, and are about one-half an inch 
in diameter. They seem to have been bored out by some sharp 
instrument. Schoolcraft, certainly a competent Indian authority 
states that these tubes were employed for astronomical purposes, 
that is to look at the stars. This is unlikely : for though the 
race, with wliich I shall try to identify our mound builders are 
said, in regions further south, to have left remains showing astro- 
nomical knowledge, yet a more reascmable purpose is suggested 
for the tubes. From the teeth marks around the rim, the tubes 
were plainly used in the mouth, and it is becoming generally 
agreed that they were conjuror's cupping instruments for sucking 
out as the medicine men pretended to be able to do the disease 
from the body. The custom survives in some of the present In- 


dian trilbes. A lady friend of mine informs me that she has a 
bone whistle taken from a mound in the Red River district. 

2. Horn Implements. (See d. Figure 1.) The only imple- 
ment of this class that we have yet found is the fish spear head 
(Fig. D.). It was probably made from the antlers of a deer 
killed in the chase. Its barbed edge indicates that it was used 
for spearing fish. It is in a fair state of preservation. 

3. Copper. No discovery of the mounds so fills the mind of 
the Archaeologist with joy as that of copper implements. Copper 
mining has now by the discovery in the Lake Superior region, of 
mining shafts long deserted, in which copper was quarried by 
stone hammers on a large scale, been shown to have been pursued 
in very ancient times on this continent. It is of intense interest 
for us to know that not only are there mines found on the south 
side of Lake Superior, but also at Isle Roy ale, on the north 
side just at the opening of Thunder Bay, and immediately con- 
tiguous to the Grand Portage, where the canoe route to Rainy 
River, so late as our own century, started from Lake Superior. 
According to the American Geologists the traces for a mile are 
found of an old copper mine on this Island. One of the pits 
opened showed that the excavation had been made in the solid 
rock to the depth of nine feet, the walls being perfectly smooth. 
A vein of native copper eighteen inches thick was discovered at 
the bottom. Here is found also, unless I am much mistaken, the 
mining location whence the Takawgamis of Rainy River obtained 
their copper implements. Two copper implements are in our 
possession, one found by Mr. E. McColl in the grand mound, and 
the other by Mr. Alexander Baker in a small mound adjoining 

(a.) Copper Needle or Drill. (See A. Fig. 1.) This was 
plainly used for some piercing or boring purpose. It is hard, 
yields with difficulty to the knife, and is considered by some to 
have been tempered. It may have been fcjr drilling out soft 
stone implements, or was probably used for piercing as a needle 
soft fabrics of bark and the like, which were being sewed 

(6.) Copper Cutting Knife. (See e. Fig. 1.) This has evi- 
dently been fastened into a wooden handle. It may have been 
used for cutting leather, being in the shape of a saddler's knife, 
or was perhaps more suited for scraping the hides and skins of 
animals being prepared for use, 


Some twenty miles above the mound on the Rainy River at 
Fort Frances a copper chisel buried in the earth was found by 
Mr. Pither, then H. B, Company agent, and was given by him to 
the late Governor McTavish. The chisel was ten inches long, was 
well tempered, and was a good cutting instrument. Another 
copper implement is in the possession of our Society, which was 
found buried in the earth 100 miles west of Red River. 

All these, I take it, were made from copper obtained from 
Isle Royale on Lake Superior. 

4. Shell Ornaments. Traces are found in the mound, of the 
fact that the decorative taste, no doubt developed in all ages, and 
in all climes, was possessed by the Takawgamis. 

{a.) Sea Shells. Important as pointing to the home and 
trading centres of the mound builders is the presence among the 
debris of the mound, of sea shells. We have three specimens 
found in the grand mound. Two of them seem to belong to the 
genus Natica, the other to Marginella. They have all been cut 
or ground down on the side of the opening of the shell, so that 
two holes permit the passage of a string, by which the beads thus 
made are strung together. The fact that the genera to which 
the shells belong are found in the sea, as well as their highly 
polished surface show these to be marine; and not only so but 
from the tropical seas, either we suppose from the Gulf of Mexico 
or from the Californian coast. 

(6.) Fresh Water Shells. In all the mounds yet opened, ex- 
amples of the Unio, or River Mussel, commonly known as the 
clam have beed found. They are usually polished, cut into 
symmetrical shapes, and have holes bored in them. We have one 
which was no doubt used as a breast ornament, and was hung by 
a string around the neck. In the bottom of a nearly complete 
pottery cup, found in the ^Tand mound, which went to pieces as 
we took it out, there was lying a polished clam shell. The clam 
still abounds on Rainy River. Six miles above the mound, we saw 
gathered together by an industrious housewife hundreds of the 
same species of clam, whose shells she was in the habit of pulver- 
izing for the benefit of her poultr}'. 

5. Pottery, (a.) Broken. It seems to be a feature of every 
mound that has been opened that fragments of pottery have been 
unearthed. The Society has in its possession remains of twenty 
or thirty potteiy vessels. They are shown to be portions of dif- 


f erent pots, by their variety of marking. The pottery is of a 
coarse sort, seemingly made by hand and not upon a wheel, and 
then baked. The markings were made upon the soft clay, evi- 
dently with a sharp instrument, or sometimes with the finger 
nail. Some pieces are found hard and well preserved ; others are 
rapidly disintegrating. As stated already, in the grand mound, 
a vessel some five inches in diameter was dug up by one of the 
workers, tilled with earth, which though we tried earnestly to 
save it, yet went to pieces in our hands The frequency with 
which fragments of pottery are found in the mounds has given 
rise to the theory that being used at the time of the funeral 
rites the vessel was dashed to pieces as was done by some ancient 
nations in the burial of the dead. This theory is made very 
doubtful indeed by the discovery of the 

Figure 2. 

(b.) Ccmplete Pottery Uup. So far as I know this is the 
only complete cup now in existence in the region northwest of 
Lake Superior, though several others are said to have been disco- 
vered and been sent to distant friends of the finders. This cup, 
belonging now to the Historical Society was found in the grand 
mound, in company with charred bones, skulls, and other human 
bones, lumps of red ochre, and the shells just described. The 
dimensions of the cup are as follows ; 



Mean diameter at top of rim 2.09 inches. 

Greatest mean diameter 3.03 " 

Height 249 " 

Thickness of material 092 " 

Weight oz. 

Whether the cup was intended for use as a burial urn, or 
simply for ordinary use it is difficult to say. 

Now, in endeavoring to sum up the results a few points need 
some discussion. 

1. Who were the people who erected the mounds.? Judging 
from the following considerations, I should say they were 


Whoever built the mounds had a faculty not possessed by 
modern Indians. Building instincts seem hereditary. The 
beaver and the musk rat build a house. Other creatures to whom 
a dwelling might be serviceable, such as the squirrel obtain 
shelter in another way. And races have their distinctive ten- 
dencies likewise. It never occurs to an Indian to build a mound. 
From what has been already said as to the fertile localities in 
which the mounds are found we are justified in believing that 
their builders were agriculturists. Dr. Dawson in Montreal by 
the use of the microscope detected grains of charred corn in the 
remains of Hochelaga. I have examined a small quantity of the 
dust taken from one of the shells found in the grand mound, 
with the microscope, and though I am not perfectly certain, yet 
I believe there are traces of some farinaceous substance to be 
seen. On skirting the shores of the Lake of the Woods into 
which Rainy River runs, at the present time, you are struck by 
the fact that there are no Canadian farmers there, and likewise 
that there are no mounds to be seen, while along the banks of 
Rainy River both the agriculturist is found cultivating the soil 
and the mounds abound. It would seem to justify us in con- 
cluding that the farmer and the mound builder avoided the one 
locality because of its barren rocky character and took to the 
other because of its fertility. Moreover the continual occurrence 
of pottery in the mounds shows that the mound-builders weie 
potters as well, while none of the tribes inhabiting tlie district 
have any knowledge of the art of pottery. The making of 
pottery is the occupation peculiarly of a sedentary race, and hence 


of a race likely to be a.griculturists. A.s it requires the building 
faculty to originate the mounds, so it requires the constructive 
faculty to make pottery. In constructive ability our Indians are 
singularly deficient, just as it is with greatest difficulty that they 
can be induced even on a small scale to practice agriculture. It 
has been objected to this conclusion that the Indians can make 
a canoe, which is a marvel in its way. But there is a great dif- 
ference in the two cases. In the canoe all the materials remain 
the same. The approximation to a chemical process makes the 
pottery manufacture a much more complicated matter. Indeed 
the Indian in token of his surprise at his success in being even 
able to construct a canoe, states in his tradition that it is the 
gift of the Manitou. Furthermore the mound builder used 
metal tools, and was probably a metal worker. It is true the 
copper implements mentioned, as having been lound were brought 
to Rainy and Red Rivers. I have, however, pointed out the inti- 
mate connection judging by the line of transport subsisting between 
Rainy River and Lake Superior, the mining locality for copper. 
To sink a mine in the unyielding Huronian rock of Lake Superior, 
with mallet and hammer and wedge and fire, take out the native 
copper, work it into the desired tools, and then temper these 
requires skill and adaptation unpossessed by the Indians. For 
centuries we know that the Lake Superior mines, in which are 
found tools and timber constructions, have been buried, filled in 
for ten feet with debris, and have rank vegetation and trees 
growing upon them. It is certain that the Indian races, even 
when shown the example, cannot when left alone follow the 
mining pursuit. Not only then by the ethnological, and other 
data cited do we conclude that the mound builders belong to a 
different race from the present Indians, but the tradition of the 
Indians is to the same effect. Then 


I would lead you back now to what little we know from the 
different sources, of the early history of our continent. When 
the Spaniards came to Mexico in the early years of the 16th 
century, Montezuma, an Aztec prince was on the throne. The 
Aztecs gave themselves out as intruders in Mexico. They were 
a bloody and warlike race, and though they gave the Spaniards 
an easy victory it was rather a reception, for they were overawed 
by superstition as to the invaders. They stated that a few cen- 
turies boloio, Lliey had Ijjcn a wild tribe on the high country of 
the Rio Grande and Colorado, in New Mexico. The access from 


the Pacific up the Colorado would agree well with the hypothesis 
that the chief sources of the aboriginal inhabitants of America 
.were Mongolian, and that from parties of Mongols landing from 
the Pacific Isles on the American coast, the population was de- 
rived. At any rate the Aztecs stated that before they invaded 
Mexico from their original home, they were preceded by a civil- 
ized race, well acquainted with the arts and science, knf»wing 
more art and astronomy in particular than they. They stated 
that they had exterminated this race known as 


The main features of the story seem correct. The Toltecs 
seem to have been allied to the Peruvians, Their skulls seem of 
the Brachycephalic type. The Toltecs were agriculturists, 
were mechanical, industrial, and constructive. In Mexico, and fur- 
ther south in Nicaragua, as well as northward, large mounds re- 
main which are traced to them. According to the Aztec story 
the Toltecans spread in Mexico fiom the seventh to the twelfth 
century at which latter day they were swept away. My theory 
is that it was this race — which must have been very numerous — 
which either came from Peru in South America, capturing Mexi- 
co and then flowing northward; or perhaps came from New 
Mexico, the American Scythia of that day, and sending one 
branch down into Mexico, sent another down the Rio Grande, 
which then spread up the Mississippi and its tributaries The 
mounds mark the course of this race migration. They are found 
on the Mississippi. One part of the race seems to have ascended 
the Ohio to the great lakes and the St, Lawrence , another went 
up the Missouri, while another ascended the Mississippi proper 
and gained communication from its head waters with the Rainy 
and Red Rivers. When then did the crest of this wave of mi- 
gj-ation reach its furthest northward point? Taking the seventh 
century as the date of the first movement of the Toltecs toward 
ctmquest in Mexico, I have set three or four centuries as 
the probable time taken for multiplication and the displacement 
of former tribes, until they, reached and possessed this northern 
region of " The Takaofamies," or far north mound builders. This 
would place their occupation of Rainy River in the eleventh cen- 
tury. Other considerations to which I shall refer seem to sustain 
this as the probal>le date. The grand mound is by far the 


oja Rainy River. It is likewise at the mouth of the Bowstring 


River, which is its largest tributary and affords the readiest means 
of access from the Mississippi up which the Toltecan flood of emi- 
gration was surging. My theory is Uiat here in their new homes, 
for three centuries they multiplied, cultivated the soil, and built 
the mounds which are still a monument to their industry. Here 
they became less warlike because mo^e industrious, arid hence 
less able to defend themselves. I have already stated that the 


swept into Mexico from the Northwest about the twelfth cen- 
century. The sanguinary horde partly destroyed and partly 
seized for its own use the civilization of the Toltecans. We have 
specially to do with an Aztec wave that seems to have surged 
up the valley of the Mississippi. As the great conquering people 
captured one region, they would settle upon it, and send off anew 
hive of marauders. Indian tribes, numerous but of the same 
savage type, are marked by the old Geographers as occupying the 
Mississippi valley. It was when one part of the northern horde 
came up the valley of the Ohio, as the Savage Iroquois, and an- 
other up the head waters of the Mississippi as the Sioux, the 
tigers of the plains, that we be?ame familiar in the sixteenth 
century with this race. The French recognized the Sioux as the 
same race as the Iroquois and called them "Iroquets " or little 
Iroquois. The two nations were confederate in their form of 
government; they had all the fury of the Aztecs, and resemblan- 
ces of a sufficiently marked kind are found between Sioux or Da- 
kota and the Iroquois dialect, while their skulls follow the Do- 
lichocephalic type of cranium. With fire and sword the invad- 
ers swept away the Toltecs ; their mines were deserted and filled 
up with debris; their arts of agriculture, metal working and 
pottery making were lost ; and up to the extreme limits of our 
country of the Takawgamis, only the mounds and their contents 
were left. 


saw the v3xpiring blaze of this tremendous conflagration just as 
the French arrived in Canada. Cartier saiv a race in 1535 in 
Hochelaga, who are believ^ed to have had Brachyitephalic crania, 
who were agriculturists, used at least implements of metal, dwelt 
in large houses, made pottery and were constructive in tendency. 
In 1G08 when Champlain visited the same spot, there were none 
of the Hochelagans remaining. This remnant of the Toltecans 


had been swept out of existence between the Algonquin wave 
from the east and the Iroquois fi-om the southwest. The French 
heard of a similar race called the Eries and of another the Neu- 
trals, who had the same habits and customs as the vanished 
Hochelagans, but who had been visited by the scourge of the 
Iroquois on the Ohio as they ascended it, and had perished. Thus 
from the twelfth century, the time set for the irruption of the 
savage tribes from New Mexico, two or three centuries would 
probably suffice to sweep away the last even of the farthest north 
Takawgamis. This, say the fifteenth century, would agree very 
well, not only with time estimated by the early French explorers, 
but also with the tradition of the Crees who claim that for three 
or four centuries they have lived sole possessors upon the borders 
of Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods, and Lake Winnipeg. Our 
theory then is that the mound builders occupied the region of 
Rainy and Red Rivei's from the eleventh to the fifteenth centur- 
ies. Their works remain. 


then are the mounds? If our conclusions are correct the oldest 
mound in our region cannot exceed 800 years, and the most re- 
cent must have been completed upwards of 400 years ago. Look 
at further considerations, which lead to these conclusions. We 
learn, that 200 years ago, viz.: in 1683, the "Clistinos" and 
"Assinipouals" (Crees and Assiniboines) were in their present 
country. The Crees were at that time in the habit of visiting 
both Lake Superior and Hudson's Bay for the purpose of trade. 
They were then extensive nations and no trace of a nation which 
preceded them was got from them. The fallen tree on the top 
of the grand mound, judging by the concentric rings of its trunk 
is 150 or 200 years old, and yet its stump stands in a foot or more 
of mould that must have taken longer than that time to form. 
Even among savage nations it would take upwards of half a 
dozen generations of men, to lose the memory of so great a catas- 
trophe as the destruction of a former populous race. Then some 
400 years ago would agree with the time of extermination of the 
Hochelagans, or with the destruction of the Eries, who according 
to Labontan were blotted out before the French came to the con- 
tinent. The Hochelagans, Eries, and Takawgamis being northern 
in their habitat, I take it were among the last of the Toltecans 
who survived. The white man but arrived upon the scene to 
succeed the farmer, the metal worker and the potter, who had 
passed away so disastrously, and to be the avenger of the lost 
race, in drivinof before him the savaofe red man 



I believe our grand mound to be the earliest in the region 
of the Takawgamis. It is the largest in the region. It will be 
seen by reference to figure 3 that I arrive at its age in the follow- 

FlGURE 3. 

ing way. Where it now stands, so striking an object, it is about 
one-third of a mile above the point where the Bowstring River 
enters the Rainy River. If however from the top of the mound 
you look southward through the trees a view may be got of the 
silver stream of the Bowstring, coming as if directly toward the 
mound. Originally no doubt this tributary flowed close by the 
mound, for the mound would undoubtedly be built on the ex- 
treme point. But as from year to year the Bowstring River de- 
posited the detritus carried down by it, it formed a bank or bar, 
and was gradually diverted from its course, until now, the 
peninsula some hundreds of yards across its base, has become up- 


19 . 

wards of a third of a mile long. I infer that this peninsula, 
which I should say contains some seventy acres has been formed 
since the mound — which from its position seems for observation 
as well as for sepulture — was begun. Some 200 yards down the 
point from the grand mound occurs another small mound. This 
is jome eight or ten feet high, and fifty or sixty feet across. 
Along the point and close past this small mound runs an old 
water course, now a treeless hay meadow. At high water in 
spring, as I ascertained, the river still sends its surplus water by 
this old channel. My position is that the 200 yards of earth 
between the site of the grand mound and that of the small 
mound was deposited after the grand mound was begun, and be- 
fore the commencement of the small mound. Undoubtedly this 
small m'^und as \^ell as a similar one not far up the river from 
the grand mound, were begun on account of the laborious work 
of carrying bones and earth to such a height, and on account of 
the numei-ous interments which have left the surface of the grand 
mound a bone pile. This is shown by the small mound being on 
a site more recent than that of the large mound. Suppose a 
hundred years to have sufficed to raise the small mound to its 
height when the devastating ruin of the Sioux slaughtered the 
last mound builder and checked the mound. From our pre vious 
position this wo aid represent a point some 500 years ago. But 
during this 500 years according to our hypothesis all of the point 
of land below the small mound, that is to say, about 300 yards in 
length, has been formed. The question then is, how long at the same 
rate must it have taken the 200 yards between the two mounds 
to form. This brings us then to a point say 300 years before the 
time of beginning of the small mound. We thus arrive at about 
800 years ago as the time when the grand mound was begun. It 
will thus be seen that we have reached back to the eleventh cen~ 
tury, the time previously deduced from historic date for the ar- 
rival of the Toltecans on the Rainy River. 


Our investigation has now come to an end. I have led you 
to examine the fev/ fragments of a civilization which it would be 
absurd to declare to have been of the very highest type, but yet 
of a character much above that of the wandering tribes, which, 
with their well-known thirst for blood, destroyed the very arts 
and useful habits which might have bettered their condition. 
The whirlwind of barbarian fury is ever one which fills peaceful 
nations with terror. We may remember how near in the 


"Agony of Canada," the French power was to oeing swept out 
of existence by the tierce fury of the Iroquois — up to that time 
always victorious. We may remember how civilization in Minne- 
sota was thrown back by the Sioux massacre of 1861. It is only 
now by persistent and unwearied efforts that we can hope to 
conquer the Indians by the arts of peace, and by inducing him to 
take the hoe in place of the tomahawk, to meet nature's obstacles 
Who can fail to heave a sigh for our northern mound builders, 
and to lament the destruction of so vast and civilized a race as 
the peaceful Toltecans of Mexico, of the Mississippi, and of the 
Ohio, to which our Takawgamis belonged ? After all, their life 
must in the main, ever remain a mystery. 


"One of our visits to the mound was at night." 

Oh, silent mound! thy secret tell ! 
God's acre gazing toward the sky, 
'Midst sombre shade 'neath angel's eye 
Thou sleepest till the domesday knell. 

Sweet leaflets, on the towering elms, 
Oh whisper from your crested height! 
Or have lost forests borne from sight 
The secret to their buried realms? 

Stay, babbhng river, hurrying past, 
Cans't thou, who saw'st the toilers build, 
Mot picture on thy bosom stilled, 
Life-speaking shadows long since cast ? 

Or, echo, mocking us with sound, 
Repeat the busy voice, we pray. 
Of moihng thousands, now dull clay. 
And waken up the gloom profound. 

Pale, shimmering ghosts that flit around, 
While spade and mattock death-fields glean, 
Open with words from the unseen 
The mysteries now in cerements bound. 

No answer yet ! We gaze in vain. 
With lamp and lore let science come. 
Now, clear eyed maiden!! — You, too. dumb ! 
Your light gone out !! — 'tis night again. 

And is this all ? an earthen pot ! 
A broken spear ! a copper pin ! 
Earth's grandest prizes counted in, 
A burial mound ! — the common lot ! 

Yes ! this were all; but o'er the mound, 
The stars, that fill the midnight sky. 
Are eyes from Heaven that watch on high 
Till domesday's thrilling life-note sound. 

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